Amaravati Art in the Context of Andhra Archaeology

by Sreyashi Ray chowdhuri | 2018 | 90,477 words

This page relates ‘Offering of food by Trapusa and Bhallika’ of the study on Amaravati Art in the Context of Andhra Archaeology, including museum exhibitions of the major archeological antiquities. These pages show how the Buddhist establishment of Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh) survived from 4th century BCE to 14th century CE. It includes references and translations of episodes of Buddha’s life drawn from the Avadanas and Jatakas which are illustrated in Amaravati art.

[Full title: Depiction of scenes from the life of Buddha: Offering of food by Trapusa and Bhallika]


Towards the end of the seventh week after Enlightenment, Buddha met two merchants Trapusa [Trapuṣa] and Bhallika. During this time Buddha was seated under the Rājāyatana tree. They stopped their carts in order to make an offering of food to Buddha. But Buddha did not have any bowl to receive the food. The four divine guardians of four quarters each gave him a bowl. He fused the four bowls into a single receptacle. He consumed merchant’s offering and thanked them with the words of Dharma, They became his first lay disciples[1]. The event is mentioned in the Mahāvagga[2], Nidānakathā and Mahāvastu.


The inner narrative face of the relief of the railing pillar from Amarāvatī housed in the British Museum depicts this episode. The relief is set in seven registers. Among them the central roundel depicts the empty throne and foot prints under a bodhi tree worshipped by the devotees including the four lokapālas presenting the four bowls. At the foot of the throne are two kneeling male figures with offerings held in bowls. They are identified as two merchants Trapusa and Bhallika who gave barley cakes and honey to Buddha[3].

Offering by Trapusa and Bhallika is also visible in a narrative from Nāgārjunakoṇḍa.

Footnotes and references:


Strong John S, Op.cit, pp 78-79


Davids T.W Rhys and Oldenberg Hermann, 1974, Op.cit, pp 81-84.


Knox Robert, Op.cit, pp 53-56, fig 8.

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